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Impact of “Greenfield” on the Organizational Constructs

 How does the Organizing for Cloud Operations section of the Operating VMware vCloud document apply to a new cloud operations organization for a “greenfield” VMware® vCloud deployment? In other words, what if we’re unencumbered by a legacy IT organization and its processes? This question has come up during several customer conversations recently. Admittedly, we’ve focused our work in this area on establishing cloud operations in the context of an existing IT organization.  By the nature and newness of the vCloud Tenant Operations organizational construct, it holds whether it’s a new organization implementation or an addition to an existing IT organization. What is impacted, though, is the Cloud Infrastructure Operations Center of Excellence (COE).   

The way I look at the impact is the Cloud Infrastructure Operations (COE) and key members of its ecosystem combine to become the new vCloud operations organization. Now, that is a bit of an oversimplification, but at its essence this is the case. As usual, the “devil is in the details.” A couple of key details I’d like to touch on are vCloud operations processes and vCloud operations role skillsets.

vCloud operations processes are the easier of the two. Standing up a new vCloud operations organization unencumbered by existing IT operations processes means you have the advantage (luxury?) of starting from scratch. The processes can be purpose-built for vCloud operations; taking advantage of new vCloud management tools capabilities and their impact on operations processes.  For example, taking advantage of the VMware vCenter™ Operations Manager™ impact on the event, incident, problem process cycle, or moving to policy-driven compliance with vCenter Configuration Manager™, or setting up Change Management with the goal of pre-approved, standard changes for capabilities such as VMware vSphere® vMotion®, HA, or DRS. How nice would that be?

The impact of a implementing a cloud operations organization unaffected by a legacy IT organization for a greenfield vCloud deployment on the role skillsets is particularly interesting to me. I believe this opens up some impactful possibilities. I’m thinking here of individuals responsible for physical networking and physical storage, for example. Creating these roles anew for cloud operations affords the opportunity for them to become experts in virtual networking and virtual storage as well. They become the vCloud networking SME and vCloud storage SME; a very powerful combination. In the Cloud Infrastructure Operations COE as part of a legacy IT organization version, the virtual networking and virtual storage expertise would reside within the COE Cloud Architect role. The Cloud Architect would regularly interact with the “champions” from the physical networking and storage teams, but there would be a separation of expertise. This clearly isn’t as efficient, but necessary when implementing within the context of a legacy IT organization. This would apply to other ecosystem functional groups as well. 

That said, what I just described would equally apply to how the Cloud Infrastructure Operations COE and it ecosystem would change as the vCloud infrastructure scales out and becomes the primary IT infrastructure environment used. But, transitioning the Cloud Infrastructure Operations COE and its ecosystem is far more challenging than creating a purpose-built cloud infrastructure operations organization from scratch.

Finally, what are the implications of these roles in a purpose-built vCloud infrastructure operations organization from a specialist versus generalist perspective?  This is another debate that, while I wouldn’t say it’s raging, it certainly the topic of some interesting conversations. I certainly have my views on this topic, but I’ll save those for another post.